Emily Progin, PR and Communications Coordinator
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MAN’S LIFE SAVED BY PANCREAS THAT WAS ALMOST DISCARDED IN ERROR
Indianapolis’ Jason Enyeart received a lifesaving transplant last month
INDIANAPOLIS—A local man’s life was saved not just by a pancreas transplant but by the surgeon who urged a hospital to double-check before discarding the organ.
On Saturday, February 16, Indianapolis resident Jason Enyeart received what transplant patients refer to as “the call”: a phone call from their medical team asking them to get to the hospital immediately to receive the gift of life. Located four hours away from the hospital, Jason and his husband of twenty-plus years readied themselves in minutes and jumped in the car for the journey of a lifetime.
Only later did Jason learn a shocking detail: the pancreas that saved his life was almost discarded by accident.
Before Jason received the call, his surgeon-to-be was helping to prepare organs for transplant from a 22-year-old deceased registered organ donor when he noticed the pancreas was not being touched. The hospital advised the surgeon that while the donor’s liver would be a match for someone on the transplant waiting list, the pancreas would not be a match or was not needed. “He insisted,” explained Jason. “The surgeon fought the hospital to check the list again. They did, and it came back with a match: me.” The pancreas transplant was a complete success.
The miraculous circumstances surrounding the transplant represent just one step in Jason’s arduous medical journey with liver failure and digestive issues. In 2018, an Indiana hospital denied him as a liver transplant candidate and told his husband, Richard, to find a hospice center to support Jason’s final days. Richard refused. He called a second hospital in Chicago, and, approved by their team to join the waiting list, Jason received his first liver/pancreas transplant just nine days later in April 2018. Unfortunately, the pancreas failed, putting Jason back on the transplant waiting list until his successful transplant last month.
“I don’t know the deceased organ donor or her family, but I do know that she saved at least two lives that morning,” said Jason. “I will not only never forget her as my hero, but I will also never forget my doctor and the entire team that essentially pulled an organ from the trash to save my life.”
One of the unanticipated side effects of Jason’s transplant journey has been the exorbitant financial burden. A 60-day supply of just one of the prescriptions needed to keep his organs healthy costs $2,000 or more. For a single ambulance ride, Jason was billed $3,000. Insurance agreed to pay just over $100. Milliman estimates that the total billed charges for a pancreas transplant can top $347,000; Jason has had two. To help with the out-of-pocket cost of care, Jason fundraises with the national nonprofit Help Hope Live at helphopelive.org.
“I am not a local hero,” he said. “I am not a sports figure with money in the bank. I am just Jason Enyeart, a guy with a negative balance in my bank account until my disability check comes, surrounded by a loving husband and friends and family, who is just trying to live.”
Make a donation in honor of Jason by visiting helphopelive.org or by calling 800.642.8399. Donations are tax deductible the extent allowed by law, and all funds raised will be used to offset medical expenses via Help Hope Live’s Great Lakes Transplant Fund. Follow Jason’s journey or leave a message of support for Jason and Richard on his fundraising page.
Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness. Since 1983, campaigns organized by Help Hope Live have raised over $135 million to pay patient expenses.
###Written by Emily Progin